Every Easter of my childhood, we gathered at the lake on the hill above the church where my father was the pastor and as the sun crept up over the lake, our voices echoed: “Christ is risen!” “He is risen, indeed!” The youth group provided the breakfast and we broke bread together in the morning chill before heading to the big sanctuary for the formal service, complete with soaring organ singing alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Later, I led a smaller congregation who gathered at Lake Ontario in the still-winter dark, standing in the cold, and often the snow, to await the rising of the sun and of Christ. Then we would go to our church and fill the empty cross standing on the lawn with the flowers we had carried.
Today, I slept long past sunrise, arrived late for the service, cried through the Hallelujah Chorus – who knows why? Except, why not? And still I was blessed with a Sunrise Service, the sweet words of local poet, Mendy Knott. I share them with you.
Why don’t we all, like Indians and yogis,
naturally or ritually, rise again each morning
to greet the sun?
When we place our feet on the floor
with intention, with meditation, movement,
a spirit purified in clear, cold water,
we can rise again every day.
Rise up and meet the world halfway–
not wait for it to come shake us roughly by the shoulder
shouting, “You’re late again!”
No, we can lift ourselves from sleep,
baptize ourselves at the bathroom sink,
step outside in robe and slippers,
stretchy yoga pants or baggy boxers,
feel the first warm rays of the sun strike our chests
and open our hearts to the fact that here we are again,
Take ten deep breaths, fill the body with oxygen,
bow deeply to the light that brings us life,
our sponsor, the Sun,
then rise again.
Raise our arms overhead, stretch our fingers toward
invisible morning stars with childlike faith that somewhere
on yet another planet touched with magic
they, too, have a golden blossom climbing the sky like a trellis,
As pastels streak the East, gray lightens to blue,
green grips the soil beneath our feet
filling with red, yellow, orange, white, lavender
flowers opening their faces to the light
and rising, rising, rising, again!
Listen to Spring sing the song of peepers and cheepers,
promising, we all will rise again;
the way the memory of a loved one long gone
rolls away the stone of our forgetfulness.
Overcome by their embrace we touch their wounds,
are filled with holy communion,
one being to another; no different
than a mother carries one inside the other.
The dead, they rise again to greet us.
See how our planet says,
“Come, eat, this is my body broken for you.”
Raise your crops, your children, your effigies, your prophets.
Life is not without its sacrifice.
“Nothing lasts forever.”
What seems gone is simple illusion.
Rabbit in a hat.
Coin behind the ear of a child.
There’s always a repeat performance.
Rise up, say “Grace.”
We are are risen again.
So say, rise up!